Expert post: How to help your child become more independent
It's amazing how much children change between the age of six and nine. Here's how you can help them grow in independence:
Recently we looked at how you can help your child become more confident - you'll find those tips here. As your child becomes more confident, their capacity to do things for themselves increases too. And this is where we parents have to take a step back so that our children can build that confidence in themselves as capable, independent individuals.
How can I help my child become more independent?
As your child moves through seven, eight and nine, you’ll find that they’re naturally ready to do more things that they’ve never done before. Give them the space to do this, even if it scares or frustrates you.
Don't burn yourself into a frenzy by racing after them with forgotten lunch bags, homework and sports kit. If you keep remembering all that stuff, what onus is there on your child to remember for themselves?
We're now into the last few weeks of this school year. If you've been doing everything for your child so far, maybe this last bit of the term is the time to let them take a little more responsibility for themselves?
But if I don't do that stuff, they'll just forget and it won't get done
That’s the whole point – forgetting, and dealing with the consequences, is an important life lesson. We have to let our children make mistakes and fail.
Deb wrote a great post here about life skills children should have by the age of ten. I thought it would be interesting to discuss the things we do and don’t allow our children to do. This isn't meant to be a prescriptive list - every child is develops at a different pace.
By the age of nine or ten, would you trust your child to:
• Walk to or from school alone. If this isn’t practical, would you let them walk to a nearby friend’s house or the local shop? With lighter summer evenings, it's a good time to start.
• Use their own money to make a purchase in a shop. They might think twice about whether they really want that ice cream if they have to pay for it themselves.
• Go to the loo alone in a public place such as a cafe
• Use an iron
• Change their pants and socks every day
• Put dirty clothes in the laundry
• Make a cup of tea
• Get their homework in on time
• Make a simple meal like pasta or toast
• Spend a little time at home alone
I was practically biting my hand with fear the first time my ten year old daughter used the iron or made a cup of tea. If I’m honest, deep down I don’t want my precious baby near anything that might harm her. But we do our children no favours by wrapping them in cotton wool.
What do you think - would you let your child do stuff like this? What do you do to encourage your child’s independence?
Letting Go As Children Grow by Deborah Jackson
Steps to Independence: Teaching Everyday Skills to Children With Special Needs by Bruce L Baker
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